Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is the latest public figure to question how Meta is moderating content during the Israel-Hamas war. In a letter addressed to Mark Zuckerberg, Warren raises several issues reported by Instagram users since October 7, and presses Meta for more information about its underlying policies and how much content the company has taken down related to the conflict.
In the letter, Warren cites reports from the media and human rights groups about inconsistencies in the company’s moderation practices since the start of the war. In particular, she notes that numerous Instagram users have accused the company of “shadowbanning” them for posting about the conditions in Gaza. She also references a third-party audit, commissioned by Meta and published last year, that found the company violated Palestinians’ right to free expression in 2021, the last time there was a major escalation in violence in the Gaza Strip.
“Reports of Meta’s suppression of Palestinian voices raise serious questions about Meta’s content moderation practices and anti-discrimination protections,” Warren writes. “Social media users deserve to know when and why their accounts and posts are restricted, particularly on the largest platforms where vital information-sharing occurs.”
The letter asks for detailed information about how Meta is enforcing its policies in the context of the war. For example, it asks Meta to disclose statistics about the number of posts that have been removed since October 7, and how many of those takedowns have been appealed. It also asks Meta to explain reports that the company hid numerous Instagram comments with Palestinian flags for being “potentially offensive.”
The letter gives Zuckerberg a January 5 deadline to respond to the questions. Meta didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Meta has come under increasing scrutiny for its moderation practices since October 7. The company has publicly blamed several issues on unspecified technical glitches and bugs, but has also acknowledged taking temporary emergency measures to slow the spread of potentially harmful content.
Meta’s independent Oversight Board is also fast-tracking two cases related to the Israel-Hamas war content, the first time the group has opted to expedite its usual months-long process. The board said at the time it had seen a surge in appeals from Facebook and Instagram users since the start of the conflict.
This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/elizabeth-warren-is-demanding-more-transparency-from-meta-on-how-its-handling-content-about-palestine-on-instagram-220226606.html?src=rss